Morgan State University, located in Baltimore, Maryland, is home to about 8,000 students in programs ranging from baccalaureate to doctorate level. The historically black college prides itself on its community engagement, public service, intensive research and excellence in teaching. However, alongside the achievements of student graduates and the institution itself, the university also places an emphasis on maintaining a safe campus community and environment. Through the implementation of several policies, the school condemns and discourages any violations of the Title IX policy. Sexual misconduct is one of the most damaging and serious violations that a student could possibly commit on campus.
If you are a member of this community, and have been accused of sexual misconduct, it's important you know what you're up against. For the purposes of this article, we will provide a brief overview of Morgan State University's Title IX Process.
Morgan State University's Sexual Misconduct Policy
The school provides several definitions of terms that will ultimately be used to dictate your innocence or guilt in a sexual misconduct (sexual assault, dating violence, rape, sexual harassment etc.) case. In any case involving sexual misconduct, whether or not there was “affirmative consent” will be discussed. Depending on the circumstances, terms like “incapacitation,” “coercion,” and other related concepts and definitions will be used. It's important you gain a comprehensive understanding of these terms to fully understand the type of evidence you need to collect, and what you must prove to a panel in a hearing.
The Title IX Process
Filing a complaint
During the Title IX process, there are certain terms that a Title IX coordinator, and other school authorities will use to characterize the parties listed in a complaint. An individual who experienced the reported prohibited conduct, regardless of whether that individual made the report, is known as a “complainant.” In some cases, schools have been known to occupy the role of a complainant in an investigation. An individual who has been accused of committing said prohibited conduct is known as a “respondent.”
All members of the Morgan State community are encouraged to report any instances of sexual misconduct that are experienced or witnessed. Once a complaint is filed, the Title IX process will immediately begin.
Once a Title IX coordinator receives word of a complaint, his or her first inclination is to prevent anyone from retaliating - another serious violation of school policy - against a respondent. In an effort to do so, certain measures are implemented to keep all parties from being in the same vicinity throughout the course of the Title IX process. Interim measures may include, but are not limited to:
- The issuing of a no contact order
- Rescheduling examinations, coursework, work schedule, and job assignments
- Parking and/or transportation accommodations
- Reassignment for housing and residences
The investigative process
A preliminary hearing is held between a Title IX coordinator and a complainant for the purpose of gathering more information. This meeting will clarify specific facts that will determine whether ot not the complaint will proceed. A coordinator will assess factors like the age of the complainant, the existence of violence, the use of a weapon, the disciplinary history of a respondent etc.
The formal investigation
If it is decided that the process will continue, a Title IX coordinator will hire investigators to garner more facts about the alleged incident of sexual misconduct. Interviews featuring the complainant, respondent and witnesses that may know any relevant information will be conducted. An investigative finding will be comprised from this information, and using the preponderance of evidence standard, it will conclude whether or not it was likely that the alleged misconduct occurred.
A hearing is the last chance for both complainants and respondents to make their case. A panel will listen to testimony, witness accounts, presentations of evidence, and final statements from both sides. Once all parties are heard, the panel will deliberate and ultimately come up with a final determination and recommended sanction (if applicable).
Respondents who are dissatisfied with a school's decision have the opportunity to appeal this decision. Essentially, an appeal is a request for the school to reconsider a decision. In order for an appeal to be granted, it must be based on specific grounds. The sole grounds for an appeal include:
- A procedural error that significantly affected a determination or sanction
- New information that was not available at the time of an investigation or hearing surfaced that could have reasonably affected a determination or sanction
- The sanction is not proportionate to the severity of a violation
Students have five calendar days to submit a written appeal.
Title IX Advisor
When you choose an attorney to accompany through your school's processes, you are sending a message to the institution that the protection of your rights is important. Attorney Joseph D. Lento has helped students who were previously in your predicament to come out on top in these cases, and he can do the same for you. Contact him today for help.
Title IX violations and Title IX charges can change an accused student's life if not defended against properly and as early as possible during the disciplinary process, and Joseph D. Lento has nearly a decade of experience passionately fighting for the future of his clients at universities and colleges throughout the nation. He does not settle for the easiest outcome, and instead, prioritizes his clients' needs and well-being. Joseph Lento is a licensed attorney in Pennsylvania and New Jersey, is admitted as an attorney pro hac vice in state and federal court if needed when representing clients nationwide, and serves as a Title IX advisor to students facing disciplinary cases in Maryland and throughout the nation. Make certain your or your student's interests are protected - Joseph D. Lento can help